If it hurts too much to walk, or even place any type of pressure on your feet, you might think you have plantar fasciitis. Although plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain, it isn't always the case. Heel pain can be a result of fat pad atrophy or entrapped nerves. Knowing more about these two possible causes of heel pain can help you treat your discomfort better.
Why Do Your Heels Hurt When You Walk?
Your toes, soles, and heels rely on special pads of fat to help cushion and absorb shock when you walk. If the pads of fat in your heels atrophy (shrink), it can expose the plantar fascia to stress and shock. The loss of fat (fat pad atrophy) can make it place pressure on your heels, even for short periods of time.
An intense burning sensation or sharp pain can develop in your heels and gradually spread throughout your feet. Some adults develop large areas of dry, hard skin (calluses) on their heels. Calluses can increase in size and thickness over time. In rare cases, calluses can become inflamed and ulcerate.
If you see a podiatrist for care, you can ease the pain in your heels and prevent your calluses from getting worse.
How Do You Treat Your Heel Problem?
A foot doctor (podiatrist) will most likely scan your heels with X-rays during your visit. X-rays can help determine whether or not you have fat pad atrophy, plantar fasciitis, or something else. Bone fractures and ligament tears are other possible causes of heel pain.
If a podiatrist diagnoses you with fat pad atrophy, they can correct it with traditional treatments, such as heel pads and cushions. The treatments absorb shock before it reaches your heels and feet. If traditional treatments don't work well for you, a foot doctor may suggest fat pad surgery.
Doctors can replace the loss tissue in your heels with fat grafts. The grafted tissue may come from different areas of your body, including your thighs, abdomen, and buttocks. Liposuction is one of the newest fat replacement surgeries used today. However, not all podiatrists and foot surgeons use liposuction to treat patients with fat pad atrophy, so keep this in mind when you speak to a specialist.
If you're tired of struggling to walk or stand on your feet, contact a heel pain service near you today. You may be able to get back on your feet sooner than you think.